Monday, October 20, 2014

Branching Out

END OF MY FIRST CAMBIO! I am officially almost done with training and ready to get more proselyting time and more privileges. Heck yes. I will be with Elder Holt for another 6 weeks to finish my training and the next cambio. Maybe more time if we are lucky. The kid is a stud.

So we got a call late Monday night from our Zone leaders telling us we had an intercambio where we exchange companions for a day. It is required once a cambio and at 8:00 in the morning. Yay. So I proselyted all day Tuesday in Rahue Bajo with Elder Owens. He is from Georgia and is number 14 of 17 kids in his family, all from the same mom. WOW.

When I got back Wednesday I got really sick and spent the next 2 days throwing up and laying in bed. I stayed home with Elder Petrovelli who is restricted to his bed while Holt went proselyting with the companion of Petrovelli, Elder Perkins. It actually worked out because I just did tons of paperwork and called people and set up appointments. We already have a full schedule for this week and it is only Monday.

Okay so bad news first. We invited Tamara to take gospel lessons along with her English lessons and she shut us down hard. She is still taking English and told us she knows we are good people and was relieved to see us on the bus that one day, but no. Jose, who we invited to be baptized 3 weeks ago, prayed and received and answer and still doesn’t want to be baptized. He said he doesn’t want to be a missionary. No matter how we explain you don’t have to be a missionary after baptism he just doesn’t get it and his answer is always the same. Yeah, I don’t know.

However, Papito said yes to taking lessons!! Pray and then pray again for that to work out. We also have been working to become a ward instead of just a branch. Elder Holt and I have helped organize the branch council to work side-by-side with the missionaries in missionary efforts, including the whole ward in finding and teaching people, reactivating enough to establish a young mens, and have given 3 people the priesthood. We are on a roll. We need 70 people to attend church and 20 people with the priesthood to become a ward, and if that happens we get a new chapel too to accommodate everyone.

We hadn’t met those goals for three weeks straight and the stake president, who is a grumpy man, had come to drop major palos on our Branch President. (A ´palo´ is a stick and to ‘drop palos’ is to chastise majorly.) We were all really bummed after branch council before church. We were ready to feel the sting of palos as they bounced off our heads when at the last minute, 79 PEOPLE WALKED THROUGH THE DOORS! We could not fit everyone! We also have 19 priesthood holders. One more and WE WILL BE A WARD! AHHHAHAHAHHH!!

Church was so spiritual and every talk was as powerful as the last. The Stake President´s address was loving but firm and it felt great to have him see we aren’t wasting our time in Rio Negro.

The last thing that was awesome about the week was last night. I have read the Book of Mormon twice now, prayed, and never really received an answer. Obviously I love this church but I kinda just looked at it all and asked myself, ¨Is this real life? Is this all really true?¨ This was heavy on my heart all day yesterday. I have fasted, prayed, cried, and begged for weeks, and nothing. I was sitting in the house of an inactive woman and we were just there to set up an appointment. I wasn’t really paying close attention to the conversation when Holt surprised us all by asking us if he could share a Mormon Message.

He shared the one by Russell M Nelson in the airplane and I was watching it, as I have 50 times, and all of the sudden the most crazy feeling in the world hit me. It felt like a river of ice water running through me. I could barely breath and my heart was beating so hard I could feel it in my knees. The message is simple: Stay calm. It will be alright. You aren’t perfect but HE is. Let Him help.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is true. This guy, Jesus? Yeah he saved us. ALL of us. And all we have to do is listen to him and trust him to be happy. FOREVER. And all he asks is to be a good person and be happy. Pretty good deal if you ask me. Let´s all accept his invitation: ¨Come Follow Me¨

With much Love,
Elder Rich

ALWAYS doing service. That is our tree.  Chilean version of Jonny Appleseed.
Elder Rich was able to take a P-Day trip to Vulcan Osorno (an active volcano)
Ski Lodge below the volcano.
My homie, Javier the Snowman
I am standing on black volcanic soil. To my left is red clay hills. To my right is a snow covered mountain, and directly ahead is a beautiful lake. 
Hermana Arriaza (her family owns the ranch where we helped with the herding). She uses the wool to spin thread manually to make clothes.
Hermana Arriaza dyes the thread with different types of moss, berries, herbs, and temperatures of water.
I get lots of questions about what I eat here in Chile. This is the first course of a typical lunch: potatoes covered in hotdogs and longaniza (a greasy meat similar to bratwurst), bread, soda, and fruit for dessert.
Another meal: chicken, enough rice to feed an army, bread, bread with cheese (there is a difference), tea, and apple for dessert.
Also, it is ALWAYS raining in Chile.
If I were a cat, this is where I would hang out too.

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